Sundance Channel packs bags for France

Strikes a deal with cable operator Numericable

Robert Redford's 13-year-old Sundance Channel is taking its first trip abroad.

The indie-focused film outlet, purchased last May by Rainbow Media for $496 million, will make its international debut in France via a carriage pact struck with cable operator Numericable.

Numericable is planning a three-pronged rollout for Sundance: Debuting it first on VOD, then following that with the debut of standard and high-def TV channels.

Formed in 2005 from a merger of France Telecom Cable and NC Numericable, the Gallic cable service reaches about 9.5 million homes.

"Through the power of popular culture, Sundance Channel programming can provoke thought and foster understanding of worlds apart from our own," Redford said Wednesday. "All of this makes the launch of Sundance Channel International in France particularly exciting and important to me."

Added Rainbow COO Ed Carroll: "It is a momentous occasion to be able to expand that impact across oceans with the channel's first distribution outside the U.S."